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It’s no weekend getaway to travel from afar to Frankfurt and remain for some days. We don’t have thermal blankets to offer. We know that resistance against the capitalist crisis is a social relation, whose place is daily life, everywhere. Still, it can be worth it to bring the struggles of daily life together in an exemplary manner. It can be worth it to set the political tone by ourselves.
A message from the Interventionist Left
We’ll be back. Blockupy 2012 was only the first spark of a political intervention that goes far beyond a single event. The absurd security measures the state applied in response to our protests only shows what the powerful will do when we aim at the target – and hit. Civil rights? The right to demonstrate? Formal democracy? All were easily suspended at the discretion of our politicians. The suppression of last years’ protest has only fuelled our desire to once again make Frankfurt the focal point in the struggle against the German-European troika this spring. Looking back on the obvious weaknesses and deficits of our first attempt, we think not only about technical or tactical improvements of that which we and many others tried to do with the international day of action M31 and the civil disobedience of Blockupy 2012. Between May 31 and June 2, 2013, we will place much more energy to understanding coming possibilities and experimenting together on how the daily crisis command of individualization and intimidation can be broken for the long-term. Our intention is not the establishment of tradition, but rather the opening of a new political space for a radical social left, a left rooted in the general public. A left that practices and gains experience in direct action to enter the transnational struggle for the European crisis.
I. A brief look back
Blockupy 2012 and M31 attempted to connect the social movements in Germany with the mass protests of southern Europe. The German political and financial elites have been able to push the Troika agenda due to a broad social consensus, fuelled partly by the approval of the large German trade unions. To come together in Frankfurt with all those who refuse that consensus is therefore, first and foremost, a mark of solidarity with the indignados of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy who had previously gathered in much larger numbers. But this gesture of solidarity with the occupations and strikes in southern Europe was also a conscious attempt to strengthen the resistance against the corporate crisis regime in Germany. The credit for the success of Blockupy 2012 therefore must also be given to the wide popularity that resulted from the joint cooperation of the radical left, globalization and Occupy activists, oppositional union protest and the party DIE LINKE. Those who came out to protest in Frankfurt last year wanted more than a legal protest with leaflets and a march from A to B. Historically it has been the radical left who practiced self-empowerment in the form of direct action and international solidarity; but this experience has shown that we no longer stand alone with these practices.
The broadening of direct action is also made possible by the trembling in the voices of the provincial politicians and police leaders, showing others that the legal framework can implode at any time: if capital is in danger, democracy no longer plays a role. It is now no longer just the radical left that sees capitalism itself in crisis; that it is not simply the ‘greed’ of the bankers, but the insanity of a neoliberal ideology, the ‘unbridling of the financial markets’. More and more people are cottoning on to the fact that the media, and the political and financial entourage, in the face of ultimatum policies on the precipice (yesterday Greece Iceland, Spain, Italy, today Cyprus), pass the pressure downwards from which they are themselves driven.
II. Capitalism is the crisis
Capitalism is not only the crisis itself because it subjects our lives to ruthless exploitation, because it forces hundreds of thousands in Europe and billions in the global south into murderous poverty. Capitalism is not only the crisis because it exploits the planet, pollutes the air, rivers, lakes and seas and terrorises the entire world with its imperialist “war on terror”. Capitalism is the crisis because of the condition and dynamics of private property: not only with respect to exploitation, impoverishment and marginalization, but in all aspects of our social relations. The crisis, which is capitalism itself, consists in the permanent upheaval and dissolution of all boundaries of its modes of production and reproduction. This not only affects the economy and political system. It also bears on the relations and relationships of daily life and coexistence: these, too, are being continuously dissapated, dissolved, violently reorganized and then torn apart anew. When discipline inflicted from the outside is eased, control, displaced to the interior of the individual, advances. If the internal control no longer suffices, discipline from the outside is reapplied, advanced. If necessary, this is done through the oldest form of extortion, the deprivation of the means of bare existence.
If the crisis of capital captures “the whole globe”, when it forces profit maximization “to nest everywhere, to cultivate everyhwere, to create connections everywhere” (Marx/Engels), then this is also a product of struggles: from struggles in and for production just as those in and for reproduction, from struggles for the economy and the law, politics, ideology, struggles dealing with the modes of daily life and coexistence, with the modes of how we relate to each other and ourselves.
The crisis, which itself is capitalism, is thus always its answer to a multiple, polymorphic resistance. For emancipatory movements this means: if the crisis of capital dissolves all boundaries that it has overcome and all new boundaries that have since been set, then struggles, too, must transcend boundaries. M31 and Blockupy attempted to transgress the national narrow-mindedness of many left politics with an exemplary concentration. Transcending boundaries, however, must not only take place in the geographical sense of the word. If capital has to nest itself, cultivate itself, create connections everywhere to fulfill the force of profit maximization, then resistance must do the same. That class contradictions have not become “simplified” but rather multiply fragmented – in a manner other than that which Marx and Engels could still hope for – is enough reason to do so.
This is an issue in Blockupy. We actually have no other choice but to dissolve the boundaries of the terrain of struggles by ourselves. The constant insecurity and endangerment of life and the continuing shortages of its resources in a time of historically unparalleled wealth constantly summons new nationalisms, fascisms, antisemitisms, racisms. It also strengthens the oldest of all forms of domination: patriarchy. Every day, the crisis, which itself is capitalism, hails anew the most wretched of resentments and allows economic, ethnicized, racist and sexist violence to merge.
III. The struggle for the crisis
At present the troika regime proceeds at two levels. Under the stipulations of austerity policies, it brings about in economical terms further deprivation of rights, devaluation, at the end of the day the over-exploitation of labor-power, including a massive dismantling of hard-fought social and political rights, especially the right to strike. This is being accelerated by the robbery of public goods of health, housing, transportation, and education through advancing privatizations – the road for which has been paved by ‘debt servicing’. The political side of this is the hollowing out of formal democracy, as has been seen in the “financial state coups” executed in Greece and Italy. The broadening of the scope of penetration of crisis management takes place on the one hand directly (as well as through technocratic governorship by “experts” such as Prodi, Draghi and Papademos). On the other hand, it is consummated with the further displacement of executive power from national to EU organs, through the expansion of transnational state apparatuses without any democratic legitimation in the interests of competetiveness in northern European majority societies, especially Germany. This is ideologically justified with the interlacing of the ‘There Is No Alternative’ discourse together with that of ‘security’ as the only remaining offering of capital to all those who somehow still belong to it.
These attacks are primarily being opposed by the social struggles in the south of Europe: the assemblies on the plazas of Spain and Portugal, the – even according to the troika – “false” election in Italy and especially the massive resistance in Greece that has now lasted many years. Whether in subversive desertion, in militant struggles in the streets, in self-organized solidarity projects or in the constitutional option of the Syriza block: answering the collapse into the abyss desired by the ruling Europe is a multifold movement of collective recalcitrance and refusal from below, which – still in their internal differences – exhibit the roots of another society. Even if we cannot predict the future we are convinced that the strategic questions of the struggle for the European pose themselves against this political horizon: will the dynamic of the crisis continue to be determined by the north, by the centers of the EU and of German capital and, from there, be forced upon the south?
Or will a reversal of the dynamic succeed: will the resistance in the south bring the EU into a crisis that rattles the authoritarian powers, causing their power to slip from their hands? However, this struggle is being duked out – and for us, everything depends on this insight – not only in Greece, Spain and Portugal, but also in the north and therefore also in Frankfurt. With the opening of the new ECB double tower planned for 2014 in Frankfurt, troika, capital, the German government and Frankfurt city administration want to celebrate themselves. This event is not only about a post-political pomp of elite representation. It is about the constitution and switching-on of factual power: starting in 2014 the ECB should be set to control all banks of the Eurozone. This is aimed not simply at the banks and the servility of governments, whose parliamentary sovereignty has already long dissapated. This modification places the ECB in the position to determine what a Portuguese nurse and a Greek teacher are allowed to earn, in order to prevent the “stability of the euro” and the “trust of the financial markets” from facing danger. Blockupy 2013 is a place to find out how we can topple this spectacle, in order to bring the contradiction back into daily life – where it can again set itself aflame. New social resistance is growing in Germany: direct actions against rising rents and forced evictions, against precarious work conditions and the harassment of the Jobcenter (German work agency), for ecological and democratic energy provision, against daily racisim and for global freedom of movement.
IV. Beyond Europe
For some time now, the struggle for the course of the European crisis has not only been fought in Europe. The Arab revolutions not only swept away the despotisms of the Ben Alis and Mubaraks and not only opened the time and space for a long struggle for democracy and freedom, against the restauration attempts of the military and the reactionary “alternative” presented by religious fundamentalisms. Within few months they created a new political universality. If it is true that the epochal break of 1989 ended the short century of the 20th century, and that this became the epoch between the October Revolution and the collapse of state socialism, then the popular Arab insurrections and their worldwide communication mark the return of history. In this sense they link up to the alter-globalization “movement of movements”, the first global movement that searched for ways out of the world of empire. The assemblies of Tunis and Cairo added the experience that the forgotten question of power can be posed again, that this question must be posed anew. The global resonances of these regional tremors forced the crisis of the EU, they forced the crisis of the USA, the smoldering crisis of the BRICS states and the crisis of global capitalism. In this spirit it was understood all over, in all places where locally different struggles unfolded themselves in the globally similar call to “occupy!” in 2011 and 2012. Of course the connection of these uprisings lags behind the enthusiam expressed not least in the spread of the slogan “occupy!”. Of course this enthusiasm does not replace the long process of global exchange, which will contain a whole bunch of contradictions and more than one break amongst us. If it is to be learned from Tunis and Cairo that the question of power can be posed all of a sudden, within a few days, we have been taught by the left in Latin America that its answer takes decades. Not a bad lesson.
V. Back to Frankfurt
If M31 and Blockupy were a response to the assemblies of Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Tahrir Squares, Blockupy 2013 will be our entry into a struggle for the European crisis, which will not stop at the borders of Europe. The many who have been overcoming these borders for years have assured this; the many who are made victims of the European border regime on a daily basis are assuring this. The struggle for the European crisis will therefore also be a struggle for an open European citizenship that politically recognizes the the antiracist headliner “all who are here are from here”. The troika has already given its answer, Blockupy 2013 will bring us closer to our answer.
We are also learning from our mistakes. Blockupy 2012 did not succeed in everything that would have been possible. We were able to do too little of that which we had undertaken.
The blockade of the ECB and the Frankfurt city center were in large part organized by the police themselves. While we did plan for this, we had set our own contribution to a higher measure. Yet Blockupy 2012 was not an atomized campaign. It was not an individualized “event”, but rather a step in a story that began long ago and will take its next step this year. To do this in the same place, in Frankfurt, is a critical objective: because Frankfurt is not just any city, but the headquarters of the ECB and a combat center of the troika. This is made visibile in the mere fact that in the three, four streets of the “red zone” of the financial district of Frankfurt approximately 70,000 people in 220 banks and financial institutions move 4,000 billion euros back and forth: daily. This is another reason Frankfurt is a globally networked and most vulnerable hub of the European crisis. And yet, Frankfurt is just a city. What we want to do here can and will be possible in other places.
VI. A radical social left
Blockupy is also a political constellation that brings together people of the most different backgrounds – geographically, socially, culturally and politically. Again this year comrades from many European countries will come to Frankfurt. Again this year thousands in other places will be watching us. Again this year the radical left will come together with activists of labor unions, left youth organizations, various social movements and the Left Party. Many people will be there who have personally decided to join Blockupy, perhaps for the first time. As our aim is once again inter-, anti- and transnational solidarity, our aim is simultaneously to hollow out German crisis corporatism from the inside. Once again our aim is to affront sexist, nationalist, racist, antisemitic, fascist “solutions to crisis” – in words and in the direct action of rage and disobedience. The blockades of Frankfurt want to open a distance to state, nation and capital, which we will continue to broaden.
This will flow into daily life, into the daily life of European crisis, the daily life of precarization, of the deprivation of rights and of dignity, the daily life of violence, of extracting appropriation, of the division of labor along fragmentations of class, race and gender: the daily life of advanced resistance. It will raise questions of movement and questions of organization, which we must answer together with others for ourselves. This relates to the experiences of direct democracy in assemblies as well as capacities to create accountable structures of transnational scale. A creative process is only reached when both levels become the space of an open ‘conspiracy of the equals’ of the 21st century. The timeliness of this early communist association lies in its having been the most decisive defender of the most important sentence of the first constitution of revolutionary Europe (1793): “When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people, and for every portion thereof, the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of
duties.” We don’t want to relinquish the dynamic of the European crisis to state and capital. Our first step is to now leave the despondence and imposture of radical-left identity politics behind us. The future of a revolutionary antagonism lies only in its radical sociality, its free association. Nothing changes immediately, or tomorrow, but if we do not all transform ourselves, if we do not try new tracks and trails, nothing will move. The rebellion will only come when we begin it. We will see each other in Frankfurt, from May 30 until June 2. Whether and how the ECB moves into its new Frankfurt quarter will not be decided for some time. Intervene! The whole lot is at stake.
Come to the camp! Participate in the Blockupy day of collective disobedience! Join the anticapitalist block in the demostration!
Interventionist Left (Interventionistische Linke),